Happy Are Those Who Keep His Decrees
Open Your Bible
Psalm 119:1-16, Psalm 19:7-8, Exodus 20:1-17
I used to really love the law (Exodus 20:1–17). I remember enthusiastically singing the Ten-Commandments song “The Perfect Ten” at school and church with the confidence of a child whose Christian walk was just beginning.
Number one, we’ve just begun: God should be first in your life!
Number two’s the idol rule: those graven images aren’t nice.
I’d assure myself as I sang…
Number three: God’s name should be never spoken in jest.
Number four: the Sabbath’s for our worship and for rest.
So far, so good. Our family was known for nothing if not for our Sunday naps.
Number five: we all should strive to honor father and mother.
Number six: don’t get your kicks from killing one another.
Number seven: life is heaven when you’re true to your mate.
Number eight: don’t steal and break this rule for goodness’ sake!
Number seven was easy—I didn’t even have a mate!
Number nine: don’t be the kind who goes around telling lies.
Number ten: don’t covet when you see your neighbor’s house or wife!
I was doing so well. It had never occurred to me to covet my neighbor’s wife. In my mind I would sing that song with a full band playing behind me—like a victory song. I was delighting in God’s law because it was just so keepable! But as I grew to understand the law, I began to understand how difficult it was to follow.
I thank God that He brought me out of the age of check, check, check into the maturity of, If this is the measuring stick, I will never measure up. And even more, I’m thankful He didn’t leave me there with my checklist. When God mercifully, gradually granted me eyes to see how readily I broke His law by commission, omission, and flat-out rejection of Him, the big band musicians in my head began to slowly lower their instruments and solemnly take their seats. I wasn’t delighting in God’s law at all. I had been delighting in my “keeping” of His law.
But my delight hasn’t gone away; it has instead shifted and matured. Now, my soul finds rest in knowing that the law has been fulfilled by Christ on my behalf. Because of Jesus, the law no longer justifies or condemns us—it frees us and becomes our guide for thankful obedience to the One by whom we are justified.
Do you get that? If the law is our measuring stick, every one of us will be found unrighteous. But Jesus kept God’s law perfectly, imparting His righteousness to us so that when we are measured, we, too, will be counted as righteous—as perfect law-keepers!
Now, when I catch myself humming that childhood ten commandments tune (or teaching it to my children), I hear it differently. Not as a reminder of what I have to do, or even as a condemnation of what I can’t do. I hear it now as an assurance of what He has done, and as the kindest, clearest roadmap to the heart of the Father. He makes me righteous, and I delight in pleasing Him. “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping [His] statutes!” (Psalm 119:5, ESV).
Lord, I love your law. “With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth” (v.13, ESV).